By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Dean Ambrose Hosted an Impromptu 'Ambrose Asylum' with Seth Rollins and Sami Zayn
We had yet to see Rollins and Zayn in the same segment prior to this, so they had a cool encounter. I don't know if Ambrose's involvement here was entirely necessary, but he didn't take away from the segment at all. I wish Zayn would have received more mic time than he did, and it's not as if he's a weak talker. Either way, a solid segment to start off the show with and build toward the first time ever main event match later in the night.
Cesaro def. Alberto Del Rio
These two might have had one or two singles matches back in 2013 or so, but other than those forgettable encounters, they haven't faced off too often in one-on-one action since then. And say what you will about Del Rio being boring as a character, but he remains an excellent athlete and he and Cesaro had a highly enjoyable matchup. Their styles meshed together very well and Del Rio showed no signs of injury despite getting banged up in Sunday's Money in the Bank Ladder match. I would have no problem with these two feuding going into Battleground, but Cesaro winning as decisively as he did leads me to believe that won't be the case.
Sheamus def. Apollo Crews by Count-out
As happy as I was to see Crews score a somewhat credible win over Sheamus at Money in the Bank, I assumed it was only inevitable before Sheamus got his win back. Sadly, it didn't take long at all. If nothing else, Crews was protected by the count-out loss, but I would have rather seen Crews win all of his matches against Sheamus. The 50/50 booking was what killed the Baron Corbin and Dolph Ziggler feud. If WWE wants fans to invest in Crews as a singles star, he has to win meaningful matches more consistently.
AJ Styles def. Jimmy Uso
I was fine with Styles defeating John Cena through nefarious means at Money in the Bank, but please don't let this mean he will be a chickenshit heel going forward. Was it really necessary for him to need help from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson in order to beat Jimmy Uso of all people? Questionable finish aside, the match was fun while it lasted.
WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day def. The Vaudevillians (Non-title)
This wasn't as hotly contested as their match from Extreme Rules, but I didn't expect it to be since the titles weren't on the line and the bout was merely a backdrop for what happened afterward. Bray Wyatt cut another all-over-the-place promo hinting at a future clash between The Wyatt Family and The New Day, and as interested as I am in seeing how this plays out, I can't help but think Bray would be better off embarking on an overdue babyface run instead of going after the WWE Tag Team Championship.
Dana Brooke def. Becky Lynch
Brooke and Lynch have done battle multiple times in the past month or two, so this wasn't anything out of the ordinary from them. They contested a fine little match in the time they were allotted, but the bout was far too brief to be memorable. Sasha Banks came out afterward to make the save and once again lay out Brooke. Personally, I'd save Banks vs. Charlotte one-on-one for SummmerSlam and do a multi-woman match of some sort at Battleground, but it looks like it will be the former based off what we saw here.
Seth Rollins def. Sami Zayn
I absolutely loved the dynamic here with Rollins being the arrogant heel bully as well as a former world champion while Zayn portrayed the plucky underdog babyface he always has been. Not to mention the in-ring action was awesome and Ambrose was effective on commentary in getting both guys over when he wasn't trying to be funny. The final few minutes were especially excellent and the post-match brawl between Rollins and Ambrose was a nice teaser of what to expect at Battleground in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match.
For those curious, no, Reigns' suspension wasn't at all acknowledged, and I'm not disappointed it wasn't. If it's going to be, it would be on Raw. The Triple Threat match is reportedly still happening, and while I don't necessarily agree with it, that's a rant for another day. At any rate, this was an entertaining edition of SmackDown with several solid matches and plenty of progression of feuds from Ambrose and Rollins, New Day and The Wyatt Family, Charlotte and Banks, and others, so it was successful show in my book.